Saturday, March 26, 2011

How to Make Suet Cakes for your Feathered Friends

One of my favorite projects is making my own suet cakes for the birds.  It's not that I have anything against the ones they sell in the stores.  This is just a really messy, fun project that I can do to use up some stuff that I have in the house.  Did I mention that it's messy?  

Here's how to do it.

First gather up your ingredients  
Suet (fat-stores around here sell it in its own container, usually about a dollar or so.  I've seen recipes that use shortening or vegetable shortening, but I use suet.)
Bird seed

Peanut Butter (crunchy or smooth, I use crunchy)
Quick Oats
Chopped fruit (I didn't have any this time, but I've used it in the past)
Stale cereal (The last time I did this I put a cranberry cereal in and the birds went crazy for it.)

Here's a picture of my ingredients:
Now you have to melt the suet.  It's kind of a stinky process, it makes your whole house smell like meat.
It looks gross, doesn't it??  Blech.  Once the suet's melted, you have to strain out the chunks.  To do this I used a flour sifter.  Make sure whatever you use isn't plastic, it WILL melt.  This is something I learned from experience know because I'm smart.
Now, dump the melted suet into a large bowl and add your other ingredients.
I don't measure anything when I'm doing this, I just wing it.  You don't want it to be too runny or too solid.  The peanut butter really helps with this step.  It acts as a kind of adhesive, holding the ingredients together.  Now that it's all mixed up, pour it into whatever you are going to use as molds.  I use those metal containers you get from Chinese take-out.  
Pop these bad boys into the freezer until they're solid.  Then you can take them out of the containers and wrap them in aluminum foil or however you want to store them.  I usually keep them in their containers, in the freezer, until I'm ready to put them outside.
I made these bigger than I normally would because I'm going to make a new suet feeder especially for these big blocks.
Pretty cool, right??  This took me probably an hour to do yesterday.  The longest part was melting the suet because it was frozen when I started.  Way to plan ahead Shawna.  What do you think?  Are you going to try it?  

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